May 31, 2012

Goodbye from Doug

(Doug passed away this morning, May 30, at 10:45 am surrounded by family and with his loving wife Dianne. We found this post that Doug wrote some time ago and know he would want it posted.)

I used to have a pair of wings, silver, that I worn on a chain around my neck for awhile last year. I asked that they be kept near the bed because I would need them to get me up to heaven, or wherever else I end up. Not hell - I don't believe in that and I am one of the good guys anyway. Wherever I'm going, I'll be there by the time you read this.
I wanted to say goodbye, but there's a lot more I need to say so I asked my dear Dianne, my soulmate, to make sure it got posted.
Worried about the future. Lots of good, but overshadowed by greed and pursuit of power. We cheer when dictatorships fall but we see the short-sighted decisions made by our own governments all in the name of betting re-elected.
We are idealistic when we're young but we learn that these ideals will never be reached as long as their are ways to achieve power over others and greed and money etc. Disheartening. Helps us to focus on our own lives, etc.
Not physical beings on a spiritual journey but we are spiritual beings on a journey through the physical plane.

Have made mistakes, but these are identification marks of our humanity.I am the product of all I have done and I will bring that with me.
Starting a new journey.

Used to say I would leave on a spaceship. That's how I look at dying.

So hard for Dianne. Afraid of being left alone and growing old without someone to understand her.

What I will miss most!

Followers. How they touch me.

Permit me this final dollop of guilt and let me ask Dianne if she can ever forgive me for leaving her.

Remember me fondly. Wherever I go, whatever happens to me, I will have that much immortality.

"All of this makes more precious each hour of those we have been given; it demands that life must be useful and rewarding. If by our work and pleasure, our triumphs and our failures, each of us is contributing to an evolving process of continuity not only of our species but of the entire balance of nature, the dignity we create in the time allotted to us becomes a continuum with the dignity we achieve by the altruism of accepting the necessity of death.
A realistic expectation also demands our acceptance that one’s allotted time on earth must be limited to an allowance consistent with the continuity of the existence of our species. Mankind, for all its unique gifts, is just as much a part of the ecosystem as is any other zoologic or botanical form, and nature does not distinguish. We die so that the world may continue to live. We have been given the miracle of life because trillions upon trillions of living things have prepared the way for us and then have died—in a sense, for us. We die, in turn, so that others may live. The tragedy of a single individual becomes, in the balance of natural things, the triumph of ongoing life." (Sherwin Nuland - How We Die)

May 29, 2012

House

I get a lot of my blog ideas from what is going on in my head and many more from what I read.  But some come from other strange places.  Like television shows.  Like "House", which I just started watching now that its over.

In a recent episode, lo and hehold, one of the key characters had cancer which looks it's going to get him.  His name is Wilson and he himself is an oncologist and Dr. House's best (and only) friend.  He is trying to come to grips with the idea of dying and having a hard time with it, so he reaches out to one of House's old team (13) who has a terminal prognosis and asks,  "Does it always have to feel so surreal?  And I immediately realized that this was the word I was looking for when people asked how it felt to be dying.  I would say confused, depressed, detached, disconnected, like living two lives.  But none of these seemed to capture it quite so well as this.  It does feel surreal.  There is a strange reality to each and every day that I find myself trying to reconcile - I'm dying but I'm alive.   If I were stronger, perhaps I could focus more on being alive, but the disease that will kill me has taken much away from me such that I don't have that physical strength and, as such, I don't really have that choice to make.  That's my reality.  So surreal it is.  It works for me and I hope it helps you understand this strange existence just a little bit better.

In the same episode, one of the doctors quoted the results of a post-911 study that determined repression was a better coping mechanism than wallowing in grief.  Now, I don't know whether that study was real or whether I've interpreted it correctly, but it's an interesting thought.  Some things are just too big for us to handle and perhaps the idea of dying is one of those things that, while we can't escape it, perhaps we can repress it enough to get on with living for awhile.  Is that even possible?  It goes against the grain of everything I represent but, just as some people deny that they have cancer as a way of coping, perhaps they can deny that they are going to die from it.  Denial.  Repression.  I couldn't do it and wouldn't want to.  But maybe some can and maybe it works for them.

Anyway.  Some interesting thoughts from an interesting source.

So long, House. 

PERSONAL HEALTH UPDATE

I realize now just how sick I was this past week and how close to death I was.  When I first reported on it, I was focused on the fact that I had sepsis and what a terrible thing that was.  But then I discovered that I had lost 2 days, some of it completely and some of it in sickened haze where people came and went and where Dianne ministered to me hour by hour, essentially keeping me alive.  And now, with the relative clarity of hindsight, I can experience viscerally the weakened state it has left me in.

I rely heavily on oxygen now.  Going up or down the stairs, carrying dishes into the kitchen.... simple things like this leave me gasping for breath.  So we  had the family discussion and decided to make a last stand in my own bed, close to bath and shower and the additon of a small fridge for medicines and cold drinks.  We decided that this would be the best place overall where I would be most comfortable and that could hopefully minimize the amount of vertical travel.  I fully expect to get sicker from here on in and we will handle this as best we can from our new headquarters.

We'll see how that goes!